May 14, 2002

Home School Team Wins National High School Mock Trial Championship

The Tennessee State High School Mock Trial championship team, a team of Home schoolers from Chattanooga, Tennessee, representing Family Christian Academy, won the National High School Mock Trial Championship in St. Paul, Minnesota on Saturday. The team is the first group of home schoolers to qualify for the prestigious National High School Mock Trial Championships.

After 4 rounds, teams were scored on won/lost record, total number of points from each ballot, and total number of ballots received. Each round had 3 ballots available. Of the 12 ballots available in the first 4 rounds, the home school team received 11 of 12 ballots, and went undefeated. They received the highest number of points and the highest number of ballots of all the teams competing.

In the final round the Tennessee home schoolers were the plaintiff against a Pennsylvania team representing the defense. The final round had 5 scoring judges. Of the 5 ballots the home schoolers won 4. The 5th ballot was lost by only 1 point.

The home school team consists of Beth Coleman, Amber Gruber, John Poston, Daniel Wilkinson, Harvy Jones, and siblings Anna, Joshua, and Matthew Downer.

Attorney Jeff Atherton coached the team with the law firm of Milligan, Barry, Hensley, and Evans in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mr. Atherton is a home schooling father of three and the vice president of the local home school association. He has coached the Chattanooga home school mock trial teams for the past 11 years. Fellow attorney and homeschool graduate, Mr. Matthew Hargraves, an associate with the same firm, assisted Mr. Atherton. Mr. Hargraves was a member of the first home school team coached by Mr. Atherton.

Another home school alumnus of the Atherton mock trial teams is former Home School Legal Defense intern Nathaniel Goggans, who is entering his final year of law school.

The trials were based on a hypothetical lawsuit stemming from the famous shipwreck of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald on Nov. 10, 1975.

Teams from 42 states, Guam, and the Mariana Islands competed.

 Other Resources

WSJ Applauds Home School Champs